Content calling for religious intolerance has been removed from the latest batch of textbooks from Saudi Arabia.
The scrubbed content included portions that supposedly called for the punishment by death of non-believers and predictions of an ultimate battle in which Jews would be eradicated, according to a report by a Jerusalem-based think tank released Tuesday, TIME reported.
The changes are a “cause for optimism,” according to Marcus Sheff, Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education CEO, TIME reported. “We do see a significant change…a real institutional effort … at the highest levels to make a change to modernize the curriculum to remove offense,” Sheff said. (RELATED: American Citizen Sentenced To 6 Years In Saudi Prison Despite Appeals From The Trump Administration)
The books currently used in Saudi Arabia’s K-12 curriculum, and available for free across the Arab world, however, still describe Jews and Christians as Islam’s foes, according to TIME. The current materials supposedly claim that “infidels” lack “good deeds” and are bound to hell, according to a report obtained by TIME.
Watchdog @IMPACT_SE @marcusjsheff notes— Kim Dozier (@KimDozier) December 15, 2020
“significant change” in 2020/21 #Saudi textbooks, deleting much anti-semitic/Christian/gay hate speech & violent Jihad but enmity to “infidels” remains & @Farah_Pandith notes still no embrace of non-Wahhabi Islam.https://t.co/xZojPW70gt
Saudi Arabia has faced education reform pressure, especially from the United States, since 9/11, after it was discovered that 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi nationals, according to Human Rights Watch.
Since 2004, the US Department of State has listed the kingdom as a “country of particular concern” under the International Religious Freedom Act, but a waiver on the designation’s penalties in 2006 has permitted the US to pursue unhindered economic and security cooperation with Saudi Arabia.